Competency & Skills Required At Different Management Levels

Not realising that the competencies and skills that are important for success at one level in an organisation are not necessarily the skills needed at another level. This is most obvious at 3 management levels

- first managerial post (where working as a team is important in functional departments)

- first general management role (where an understanding of all the functions in an organisation is required).

- most senior executive role (understanding of the "big picture"and the range of stakeholders' interests)

Thus the need for training and mentoring, coaching, etc

. Not realising that most managers are not prepared to handle change as their experience is based upon

"...finely honed operational skills in managing quality programs, process improvement teams, and cost-control efforts......many managers who are intensely focused on delivering ever improving results often are the worst at developing next-generation management bench strength. It takes extraordinary discipline and vision on the part of senior executives to balance the tension between the putting fully qualified employees to drive results now versus giving learning opportunities to high-potential employees who need more development..."

Clayton Christensen et al, 2003

In change, the problems are very different from those in well-established organisations. In fact, failure and bouncing back from failure are critical experiences in developing the necessary skills to handle a new business.

"...The school-of-experience theory, however, says that potential should not be measured by attributes, but rather by the ability to acquire the attributes and skills needed for future situations......the ability to learn what needs to be learned experiences......focusing on ability to learn, it is possible to avoid assuming that the infinite list of competencies important for today are those that will be required in the future. Performance appraisal......focus on learning-orientated measures such as 'seeks opportunities to learn,' seeks and uses feedback,' 'asks the right questions,' 'looks at things from new perspectives,' and 'learns from mistakes'......the quest is to determine whether an employee is willing to learn new skills..."

Clayton Christensen et al, 2003

Not appreciating the difference between managers who focus on the big picture (bird's eye view) or detail (worm's eye view). This is sometimes referred to as the zoom framework (zooming in, zooming out) (Rosabeth Moss Kanter, 2011).

i) Zooming in

It focuses on details, especially operational matters; looks for immediate benefits, quick fixes and tends to make decisions with a reliance on their personal networks (somebody they know rather than relying on outside expertise), favour "turf protection"with an obsession with self, can personalize issues, get more grounded in situational realities, etc

It is less interested in wider perspective/big picture issues; analysis (including exploring for underlining causes, alternatives or long-term solutions); planning (strategic, succession, etc); policies, etc. Generally policies and systems are based on internal politics with organisational activities based on favours, ie 'do it for me". Change is often resisted as it disturbs the social equilibrium.

"...decisions are based on who you are and whom you know, not on broader goals..."

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, 2011

ii) Zooming out

It is big-picture decision-making; events are seen as part of general patterns; things are put into context and the focus on principles. Less focus is on details and the short-term; can miss emerging threats, opportunities and novel situations by over-generalising, etc.

Need a balance of "zooming in"and "zooming out", ie zoom in to see the specific problem and zoom out to look for similar situations, root causes, principles, policies, etc relevant to the current situation.

It is claimed that women are better at zooming in than men, eg relationship building, collaboration, teamwork, etc; men are better at zooming out, eg visioning. This is based on the different traditional roles performed by men and women, ie women as the carers.

 

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